Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 46.djvu/858

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

Every attempt to extend the bounds of human knowledge or to give the benefit of enlightened direction to the activities of mankind aroused his interest. His attention was thus drawn to the so-called new religions, Mormonism and Millerism, as they arose; to the religious teachings of Channing and Emerson; and to the study of Egyptian antiquities. He studied phrenology, and became a believer in its theories. At a time when the subject had hardly been thought of he was a strong advocate of the emancipation of woman from the narrow sphere of activity to which she had been confined. General literature did not have the absorbing interest for him that scientific subjects did. As for music, it appeared to have no charms in his eyes; he declared that far too much time was wasted over it. This fact seems rather unaccountable, as all his brothers and sisters were devoted to the art, and some of them proficient in it.

For Benjamin Franklin's character and achievements he had the highest admiration; honoring himself and his place by naming it after him "Franklin Farm," and the entrance hall of the house was adorned for many years by a bust of the great man; attention often being called to it as "the presiding genius of the place."

To complete the picture, even of a man of science, the social and domestic side of his character and life as well as daily occupations must not be omitted. He was kind and gentle in manner and speech, his somewhat quick temper being under complete control. Though his children stood rather in awe of him, as did many others (of his subordinates), he ruled them by affection and "treated them as intelligent beings," as he said, the result being the most implicit obedience.

His active mind was engaged frequently upon subjects requiring deep thought while his hands were executing works of minor importance. On being asked why he did not plow his own fields, he would reply that he never liked to engage in any manual labor that absorbed the whole attention, as he desired to keep his mind free for other matters. His knowledge of chemistry was brought into use in the cultivation of his farm—much to the amusement of his less enlightened neighbors, who did not believe in "book farming." He had learned the use of carpenter's tools when a boy, for his father, in order to keep his sons off the street, had wisely provided them interesting occupation at home by fitting up a shop for their use. Prof. Vanuxem turned his skill to account in making the cases and chests of drawers in his cabinet a room measuring about fifteen by twenty-five or thirty feet—and otherwise as occasion required.

"Always cheerful, intelligent, bright, and full of anecdote," it has been said of him, "he was gladly welcomed into every social